Friday, 10 June 2011

A two day paddle & hike in The Trossachs

I dragged myself out of bed shortly after 6.30 on Saturday morning. The past few days had been hot and sunny, but it was gray and blustery when I looked out of my window. "No matter", I thought.

I made it to the bus station just in time to catch a big yellow bus heading North. I dosed in my seat and woke up just before my stop, Tyndrum.

I walked South for a couple of miles before the River Fillan looked deep enough to paddle. In fact, for many stretches I had to make like a starfish with my whole body spread across the tubes of the boat to get enough clearance through the shallows. When the shallows became just too shallow I got out and walked through the water with my Yak floating obediently by my side.

After passing through Loch Dochart, into which the River Fillan empties, I entered Loch Lubhair, and paddled in to a headwind until I reached a sheltered lagoon at the Loch's Eastern end.

As with the Fillan the water level on the River Dochart was low and, with little current, progress was slow.

After leaving the river for the evening I strung my tarp between two birches and rolled out my bivvy underneath. I slept too well and woke up late the next morning.

Given my late start I decided to start up over the hills that separate Glen Dochart from Balquhidder following path that begins at Ledcharrie Farm. I had planned on beginning from a mile or so further down the glen, from a farm called Ardchyle. Ardchyle is a modern corruption of the Gaelic 'Ard Choille' [Wooded Heights] and this was a stronghold of the Clan MacGregor. 'Ard Choille' was taken as the battle cry of the clan when they became outlaws.

I followed Lecharrie Burn as it climbed away from Glen Dochart. I passed cascades of water that would no doubt be impressive in spate.

To the west I had a hazy view towards the twin peaks of Ben Mor and Stob Binnein, climbed on a day of considerably lower visibility a couple of weeks previously.

At the top of the pass I came to a small lochan, and it was downhill from here.

Among the trees of Kirkton Glen I spied a Jay perched on a dead trunk. These are not at all rare birds but I haven't seen one for a while. Unfortunately, the Jay's evil cousin, the Magpie, has been proliferating across Scotland. They bite the heads off songbird chicks in the nests! The wee b*****ds!

Leaving the woodland I reached the ruins of the Balquidder Kirk (church).

Here lies the fabled chief and strongman of Clan MacGregor, Liam Neeson Robert MacGregor (AKA, Rob Roy MacGregor). His grave lies side-by-side with that of his two sons (buried together) and wife. People have left offerings at the grave side including ale, a tartan sash and a scattering of coins. I added a ten pence piece and headed for the river.

It was an enjoyable paddle down the familiar meanders of the River Balvag. Not what you would call exciting, but rewarding more in the value of relaxation. Again, the low level of the water made for a very gentle current and a slow journey (but I was in no particular hurry). I dodged the thought of work the next day and focused on the river winding away ahead of me. After a beer in Strathyre I caught a bus directly back to Edinburgh, dosed in my seat and woke up just before my stop.


  1. Another great time in the hills you had. I am amazed the midges did not eat you under a tarp. But when the weather is nice I can imagine floating along a river with mountains on all sides is rather nice.

  2. Thanks Martin. I wore a tight mesh head net and was ok with the midges. My tent has a broken Zip (a big pain in the neck) which I don't want to exacerbate and I'm hoping SMG can fix in the next 10 days (really hope!) but they haven't quoted a cost yet.


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Grid North by David Hine is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.